MTN Nigeria is prepared to defend in court its acquisition of Visafone, which will enable the mobile phone operator to deploy wireless broadband services in Africa’s biggest economy. Etisalat has filed a lawsuit against MTN and Visafone to challenge the acquisition. By Staff Writer
The Leadership Newspaper in Nigeria reported on Tuesday that MTN Nigeria is “ready to meet Etisalat Nigeria in court over its acquisition of Visafone”.
MTN is deploying the 800MHz spectrum for the commercial rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology for its fourth generation (4G) network.
“Etisalat has filed a lawsuit against MTN and Visafone, and we have filed appropriate processes before the court for necessary determination. The acquisition of Visafone was concluded after obtaining all necessary statutory and regulatory approvals. I am not able to comment further as the matter is subjudice,”MTN executive, Amina Oyagbola, told Leadership newspaper.
Etisalat told the newspaper that its action is necessary to prevent the use of the spectrum by MTN at this time, as it will entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market.
Meanwhile, MTN was given a December 31 deadline to pay the fine for its failure to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers who did not register their SIM cards. The payment deadline has expired.
The South African-based telco has hired seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to fight the R59 billion ($3.9 billion) fine in the Federal High Court in Lagos. The initial fine was $5.2 billion and was in December reduced to $3.9 billion.
The hearings of the dispute were expected before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria on 22 January 2016.
However, MTN informed investors on the same day that the judge adjourned the matter to 18 March 2016 in order to “enable the parties to try and settle the matter. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement the matter will then proceed on that date”.